Catching up with Stevan Ridley

Patriots running back Stevan Ridley has been training in the South in recent weeks and on Tuesday he made an appearance at a local camp. His hometown Natchez (Mississippi) Democrat newspaper caught up with him.

"Natchez gave me more motivation because I knew I had a good base coming out, but people doubted me because I came from a small area," Ridley told reporter Reina Kempt. "But all we know here is hard work, so I just wanted to tell them they have just as good a chance as the kids from bigger areas."

Ridley went on to Louisiana State, was selected by the Patriots in the third round of the 2011 NFL Draft, and has emerged as the team's leading running back.

Given some of the questions the Patriots currently have in the passing game, Ridley's presence could take on added importance in 2013. That's the way ESPN analyst Tedy Bruschi sees it.

"Two things I think they rely on with the loss of [Aaron] Hernandez and [Rob] Gronkowski being hurt -- it's going to be [Danny] Amendola and Ridley," Bruschi said on the ESPNBoston.com Patriots podcast. "They're going to have to rely on this running game."

As for the Aaron Hernandez murder charge, Ridley told the Natchez Democrat: "My prayers are with the Hernandez family."